It's our favourite subject. Collectively, we're obsessed with it, and for good reason. The weather in our lively little town is an issue that keeps coming up and keeps getting us down. During the icy cold winter months, we can't imagine that summer ever existed; under the oppressive sticky heat of summer, we pray for the cool breeze of fall. This summer so far has been filled with torrential rains. Understandably, we're feeling slightly panicky-we sense our precious summer slipping right through our fingers.
People always say that, if not for the extreme, unpredictable weather, Montreal would be an amazing city to live in. I disagree. I think that Montreal is an amazing city to live in partially because of the weather. We Montrealers appreciate good weather like no one else in the world because we have experienced the worst. At the first sign of spring, we're out drinking beer on terraces and leisurely sauntering through the city; we're generally in fantastic moods. Yes, we suffer, but when good weather decides to grace us with its presence, we sip it slowly and carefully indulge our senses with the subtle pleasures of the good life.
Many years ago, fresh out of film school, I decided to try my luck in LA. I lived there for six months, chasing the great American Dream like millions of people before and after me. The one thing that made a lasting impression on me, other than haunting visions of women fresh out of plastic surgery, was the weather. I was shocked to discover that every day was exactly the same-warm and sunny. It was great at first. But, after a while, the novelty wore off. I found myself praying for rain or even a passing cloud; anything different. The weather was just so boring.
The weather in Montreal constantly keeps us on our toes. We don't know what to expect from one day, or one hour, to the next. Annoying? Yes. But to live here means to wholeheartedly embrace our meteorological fates.
Here are the top five reasons to love Montreal weather:
1. It gives us something to talk about
What would we do if we didn't have the weather to discuss? It's one subject that crosses social, political, language and age barriers. As people, the weather brings us closer together. When extreme conditions hit, people need to vent their frustrations and complain. It's good to know that everyone can relate to our angst.
Remember the Great Flood of 1987 or Ice Storm 1998 (also known as "The Storm of the Century")? People still exchange war stories about how they took in neighbours and braved terrible conditions to help strangers in need. Our own indie rock superstars, the Arcade Fire, even wrote a song based on their experiences in the ice storm called "Neighborhood #3 (Power Out)." Bad weather can be a valuable source of inspiration.
Extreme weather conditions build character-something that we Montrealers have a lot of.
2. It gives us something to blame
When we feel depressed, the weather is an easy scapegoat. We can always externalize our feelings and say that we're despondent because it's raining or because it's cold and miserable, rather than looking into the real reasons for our unhappiness.
Weather definitely affects our moods; we can all agree that we're happier when it's sunny and warm. Some people are extremely sensitive to the seasons. SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) is a condition caused by the absence of light which upsets the body's internal melatonin rhythm.
"SAD sufferers typically experience depressive symptoms during the winter months: fatigue, weight gain, sleep problems such as insomnia and hypersomnia, mood swings, introversion and food cravings," explains Louisa Deasey of the Sydney Morning Herald. "The problem many doctors have in diagnosing SAD is that the symptoms overlap with many sleep disorders and other forms of depression."
The Mood Disorders Society of Canada estimates that 2 to 4 percent of Canada's population suffers from SAD. So what about the rest of us? Plain and simple, we're just sad when we can't go out and play.
3. Spring/Summer fever
When the weather is good, we feel that we have earned it. That's the great thing about spring and summer in Montreal; we truly deserve every ray of sun and every glimmer of daylight that we get. I would even go so far as to say that we have all earned the right to have summers off.
Last summer, for the first time since my university days, I had a few months that were virtually work-free. I didn't have a lot of money, but I did make the most of the season. I woke up late and went to the pool or a park almost every day. I leisurely rode my bike around my neighbourhood. I barbecued and went out drinking at night. I was a woman of leisure. When fall and winter came around, I was mentally and physically (albeit not financially) prepared for it.
4. Wardrobe changes
We have clothes for all seasons and all weather conditions. Our wardrobe possibilities are endless. Just when we start to get bored with our summer T-shirts and capris, fall comes around-and with it, a whole new batch of sweaters, jeans and accessories to help make the transition easier. Being the fashionable bunch that we are, Montrealers thrive on fall and winter fashion.
Canadian twin brothers Dean and Dan Caten, better known as Dsquared2, have brought Canadian fashion sensibilities to the international fashion world. Their hugely popular clothing line, worn by such stars as Madonna and Brittany Murphy, is full of Canadian references to Mounties, the Calgary Stampede and lumberjacks, to name a few. It seems that it's now cool to be cold.
5. Somewhere over the rainbow ...
With our constantly changing weather, we always have something to hope for and look forward to. Even in the worst conditions, we know that it will get better.
When it comes to Montreal's weather, Dorothy said it best in The Wizard of Oz: "There's no place like home."